Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why Read and Write Poetry

WHY READ & WRITE POETRY                           "Poetry isn't a profession, it's a way of life.
It's an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of it." 
Mary Oliver, poet

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Downtown Rochester, New York

My wife recently had a successful back operation at Highland Hospital in Rochester. She stayed on the sixth floor. Doctors and staff were great. And something else was great: the view from her window. You could see downtown Rochester, including Kodak and other important buildings. We actually saw a fantastic sunset over Rochester #12 School. I always feel a nostalgic when I see  an elementary school--that is, I wish that I was in it performing poetry.

I had no camera until the next day. So, I took this shot in the morning...

Not far from Mar's room there was a visitor's lounge where I took this photo through a smudged-caked window...

Home Sweet Home!

The Best of Bumper Stickers

If you're rich, I’m single!

Adults are just kids with money.

I Think Feminists Are Cute!

Friends help you move; real friends help you move the body.

Eternity: Smoking or Non-Smoking?

Hard work never killed anyone. But why take the chance?

You’re entitled to your opinion. I just don’t want to hear it.

I am spending my child’s inheritance.If you're rich, I’m single!

Adults are just kids with money.

I Think Feminists Are Cute!

Friends help you move; real friends help you move the body.

Eternity: Smoking or Non-Smoking?

Hard work never killed anyone. But why take the chance?

You’re entitled to your opinion. I just don’t want to hear it.

I am spending my child’s inheritance.

Computers Lie!

 “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
~Albert Einstein

When computers are good, they are good. When computers are bad, they are bad. We tend to take them for granted when they run smoothly, and when they “crash” or become infected with a virus, it’s the end of the world. Trying the same thing over and over hardly ever fixes them. Albert is right. It’s insane to do the same thing again and again hoping to fix your computer.

On the other hand, I have learned that computers and printers lie. I’ve had a computer tell me a number of times that what I just tried to do can’t be done, and then a second later it’s opening up the folder that I requested or doing exactly what I wanted to do in the first place without me doing anything extra. So, why did it tell me that it couldn’t do it? I don’t have a clue.

And when the printer tells you that it’s “low on ink” it may be telling you a big fat fib. The machine doesn’t actually measure the ink level. It counts the number of sheets that you use, and it gives you’re a ballpark figure in terms of how much ink you have left. 

If the printer has the gall to tell you, “Using your printer without ink can harm your computer”, that’s another lie. It just won’t print anything for you without ink. The bottom line is: if it doesn’t work right the first time around, it okay to try at least one more time.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Best Quotes--Heart Walking

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide
forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.  
–Elizabeth Stone, writer

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Best Stuff

I thought that, perhaps, if I had a more predictable and interesting website wherein I shared “my best stuff” with you, my blog would be more valuable to you. So, I aim to share itmes on these topics:

My Best Internet Stuff ...This will be the best Internet material that gets delivered in my mailbox that makes me laugh aloud or makes me ponder the meaning of life.

My Best Poem of the Week …This could be my poem or a poem that I discovered in my readings.

My Best Quote of the Week …This could be a quote about writing or life.

My Best Rambling Thoughts …This would be whatever was on my mind that needed airing.

My Best Friday Poem …This would be a poem related to Poetry Friday on JacketFlap or not.

My Best Catch of the Week …This would be words of praise about a special person who has a positive impact on me—family, friends, poets or celebrities.

Well, I hope you enjoy the line up and tune in. I thought that, perhaps, if I had a more predictable website wherein I shared “my best stuff” with you, my blog would be more valuable to you. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Remembering 9/11 with a Big Teardrop

When they have anniversaries of sad or tragic events, the years seem to skip by, and I am always asking myself the same question, “Was it really that long ago? It seems like it happened last week.” Maybe that’s true for me because those memories of events seem so vivid.”

I don’t know why I had the television on that morning, but I did. I saw the second plane hit the second tower as it occurred on TV. The host of the Morning Show didn’t know what was going on in New York City, possibly a whole invasion of the city, starting with two planes used for the destruction of landmark buildings and thousands of lives
At that time in my life I had been retired a year, and we were in the middle of a painting all the ceilings in our house. So, we had the TV on constantly. We stopped whatever we were doing for new news about the incident. From our covered sofa and other chairs, the tears filled up our hearts and mind, as relatives looked for their missing loved ones. Those scenes are etched in my heart.

Soon after that there was a new spirit in America—cars where driving with little American flags on them, many houses proudly displayed flags, people were opening doors for one another, and smiling at strangers. We were all glad to be alive, and determined to live in a better, safer world.

That “high” of good feeling and good in the country has certainly declined, due to two wars and bad economic times. If only we could put our tears symbolically in one place and move on with a brighter spirit, while never forgetting 9/11.

That is possible—at least to put our tears symbolically in one place. There is real 100-foot Teardrop Memorial that was dedicated September 11, 2006 in a ceremony attended by former President Clinton and other dignitaries. The sculpture was donated by the Russian people and is located in New Jersey.

The Teardrop Memorial is very large, big enough to contain all our sacred tears for those who died...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Do You Want to Write and Blog More?

Do you want to string together some effective blogs or poems? There's only one way to do it: Putt butt on chair, and do it. There's no magic potent or silver thread. I now have Jim Denney's essential habits of writing hanging right near my computer. Maybe it will inspire you too:

Seven Essential Habits of a Working Writer are:

  1. Write Daily
  2. Cultivate the Art of Solitude Amid Distractions
  3. Write Quickly and With Intensity
  4. Set Ambitious But Achievable Goals
  5. Focus!
  6. Finish What You Start and Submit What You Finish
  7. Believe You Can
Jim Denney
“In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration.”~~John Steinbeck

Anger Is A Gift

I was driving my car today, and the car in front of me had this bumper sticker: "Anger is a gift." And I thought, "Wow! What a right on concept!"

Anger tells us that something is wrong, and we better correct the situation, if it's humanly possible. It also reminds us that we have values, and that we are passionate people. You have to feel strongly about something to get angry about it. Your mind is screaming for you to "Do something!" And I don't mean pull out your .45 Magnum revolver. You're not going to make anyone's day with that. Maybe it's time to evaluate what's going on to make you so angry, and then do some problem solving.

In today's e-mail, Wings for the Heart Motivational Newsletter (, I came across five steps for striving to be happy. What would your five steps be? Well, I found step two rather interesting:

2. Have a healthy outlet for your anger - you need to let your frustrations out. Talk to someone if you must or go to the gym to pump out those happy hormones. Studies show that people who exercise are more readily able to find solutions to their problems.  

That sounds like good advice to me, if you want to be happy.

Nevertheless, never forget: Anger is a gift, and it's what you do with it that counts--like all gifts.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Give That Elevator Speech!

“What book are you reading?”

What do you do when holding your latest copy of your book and you are asked the above? You give your elevator speech. You tell that person the most important things about your book, as fast as you can, before the elevator stops at the interested person’s floor.

You must speak quickly and carefully, explaining the value and benefit of your book to readers. You need to give them a reason to care, and to share your special qualifications for writing it.

What might I say about Waiting to See the Principal and Other Poems?

“Waiting to See the Principal and Other Poems is a book with almost 60 poems and sketches about home, school, parents, siblings, sports, pets, and wild things. The poems make kids want to chant the lines that are repeated, and to laugh out loud. Teachers and parents love the book because it encourages the joy of poetry and the creative process. It also makes a great gift of kids and teachers. I was a teacher for thirty-three years, and I know kids love funny poetry.”

Okay, now the elevator doors can open.

Of course, the elevator speech can be given anywhere when you’re pressed for time.

Good luck!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jacquie McTaggart: Dynamic Speaker, Writer, Teacher, and Friend

Jacquie is all of the above and more! In my book of “Best People” she is simply a wonderful lady. She could also be called a “humorist” which she labeled me when awarding her gold star of the month at…

Yes, she has a tremendous sense of humor, and she is a gifted writer and speaker. I will let her tell you why this former First Grade Teacher of forty-one years spends so much time speaking and writing. What follows is a partial list of the places and states that she visits to speak, copied from her website:

Jacquie's Itinerary

I'm often asked why I spend so much time speaking and writing, and my answer is always the same. I want to make a difference. And besides that, I love what I do. I get to meet new people (some in person and some online), see new places, taste new foods, and learn new things. And that, my friends, is what I believe retirement should be — making a difference and doing what you enjoy. I plan to ride this merry-go-round for a few more years, and perhaps one day I'll look out in the audience and see you. I hope so.

Following is a partial list of my scheduled speaking appearances. If you live near one of these locations and would like more information, just hit the Contact link and tell me how I can help. And if you attend one of these functions, please seek me out and introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you face-to-face.
  • Fennimore, Wisconsin: CESA #3 - EDUConference 2010. "The Write Way." 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.; July 28-29, 2010.
  • Peosta, Iowa: Seton Catholic School Staff Development. Will meet in Shannon Hall, located in the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church; 10 a.m. - 12 noon on August 16, 2010.
  • Rapid City, South Dakota: Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center. International Reading Association state conference. October 14-16, 2010.
  • Hershey, Pennsylvania: Hershey Conference Center. KSRA conference. October 24-27, 2010.
  • Oelwein, Iowa: Public Library. Northeast Iowa Reading Council. "The Write Way." November 10, 2010. 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
  • Little Rock, Arkansas: Arkansas Reading Association State Conference. Little Rock Convention Center and Peabody Hotel. November 18-19, 2010.
  • Springfield, Illinois: International Reading Association conference. March 17-19, 2011.
  • Saskatoon, Canada: Saskatoon Reading Conference 2011. "Building Bridges Through Literacy" at Saskatoon Travelodge Hotel. April 7-8, 2011.
  • Sugar Grove, Illinois: NIU Summer Literary Conference. June 21, 2011.
As for being a writer and person, this is copied from her website which is at

My name is Jacquie McTaggart. I have one husband, two sons, six grandkids, and 1500 former students. I'd love to brag about the whole tribe and tell you how great each of them are, but you might find that a tad boring. So...I'll simply say they are the best and let it go at that.

I live with my husband, Carroll, in Independence, Iowa. He is retired; I am not. Well, not in the truest sense of the word. I did accept an early-retirement package from the Independence School District in 2001 — following a 42-year teaching career. I did not, however, forsake my quest to help kids become the best that they can be. Fortunately, my husband supports my passion, and teachers throughout the country help me implement it.

My first book, From the Teacher's Desk, was released in December 2003. In April 2004 I was a featured speaker at North Dakota's International Reading Association state conference, and in April 2009 I returned to ND for my 50th IRA speaking assignment. And I pick up new ideas at every conference. Teachers are always willing to share, and I'm always eager to listen. It's a win-win combination.

My most recent book, If They Don't Learn the Way You Teach, Teach the Way They Learn, was released in August 2009. The book includes all of the materials, lists, methods, and practices that I talk about in the eight different presentations I give at IRA conferences, reading/writing workshops, library conferences, and teacher in-service training. You can see chapter reviews by clicking on the books at this site's homepage. Hint: From the Teacher's Desk is a treasure trove for parents, whereas If They Don't Learn the Way You Teach, Teach the Way They Learn is primarily for teachers.

I update the material at the Teacher's Desk on the first day of every month. Teachers throughout the country tell me what is working for them and what is not, and I have the honor of passing it on to you. I invite you to join our "For the Love of Kids" family. Sign up for the free newsletter, and if at any time you have a question or suggestion, just use the Contact link and shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you.

As for being my friend, I am thankful that Jacquie and I can share laughs and inspiration online, since she lives in Iowa, and I live in New York. She is my BIF, Best Internet Friend, and an inspiration to many.

You won’t be disappointed with her website or her books.